Oregon Ducks soccer opened up the 2023 season with a home loss against the Baylor Bears, 0-2.
The ‘23 version of the Ducks bears very little resemblance to the ‘22 team. Of the 29 players on this team, 15 are freshmen or R-Fr. and 9 are sophomore or R-So. The team is almost all underclassmen; it can’t be overstated how much growing Oregon will be doing this season, and while no one enjoys losing matches, it’s all part of the learning process.
Four Fr./R-Fr. started the match, and another five Fr./R-Fr. substituted, so the Ducks brought in a lot of their youngsters.
Oregon started out energetic, and regardless of the end result it appears that this season’s Ducks are more athletic than last year. Oregon had an early shot at goal at the 16:40 mark by freshman Mia McSweeney, but that would be the only SOG for the Ducks until McSweeney would again shoot at the 52:59 mark.
The Ducks only had one corner kick and one SOG in the first half, and Baylor had five corner kicks with 11 SOG. Suffice it to say that the vast majority of play all game was at midfield and Oregon’s goal.
The Bears, like the Ducks, only won four games last season, but they were the much better team. They held position better instead of chasing the ball, and worked the ball upfield much better than Oregon with far superior passing.
The Ducks played very good defense - granted, they had play a lot of defense - and at the half still battled to a 0-0 score. However, when the opposition is getting a lot of shots, and you’re not, some are bound to go in. Baylor scored at the 65:20 and 73:11 marks, and even though Oregon’s play was much more spirited after the first score, in truth the Bears missed one or two additional shots that probably should have gone in.
This isn’t to take anything away from the play of GK Maddy Goldberg. Oregon’s goalie was excellent, and had seven saves on the evening.
Oregon ended the match with 4 corner kicks and 5 shots on goal. Baylor recorded 8 CK and 22 SOG. All of Oregon’s SOG came from freshmen: Mia McSweeney, Cameron Borne, Ryann Reynolds, and Myra Schneider. All are true freshmen playing their first college game.
No one who is following Oregon soccer is expecting championship play from this team. With so many underclassmen and new faces this year, these kinds of games will happen. They expect to get better as the season progresses. That’s not an unrealistic expectation given the circumstances - they look more gifted athletically than last year’s team. The Ducks just need some time to become a team.